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U.S. prosecutors have added another charge to Sam Bankman-Fried’s growing list of indictments – paying a $40 million bribe to Chinese officials to unfreeze his hedge fund’s accounts.
United States prosecutors have accused Sam Bankman-Fried of paying Chinese officials a $40 million bribe to unfreeze FTX’s accounts. The bribery conspiracy charge adds to a 13-count indictment against the former CEO of the now-collapsed crypto exchange FTX.
Reuters reports Bankman-Fried is expected to be arraigned on the charge on Thursday before U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan in a Manhattan federal court. In a separate report, Reuters indicates that the former CEO intends to plead not guilty to the charge, citing a person familiar with the matter.
The new indictment against SBF alleges that he ordered a $40 million crypto payment to a private wallet from FTX’s sister firm, Alameda Research’s main trading account, to persuade Chinese authorities to unfreeze Alameda’s accounts containing over $1 billion of cryptocurrency. The indictment reads:
In or about November 2021, Samuel Bankman-Fried, a/k/a ‘SBF,’ the defendant, and others directed and caused the transfer of at least approximately $40 million in cryptocurrency intended for the benefit of one or more Chinese officials in order to influence and induce them to unfreeze the Accounts.
Reuters explains Alameda accounts were frozen as part of an investigation into an Alameda counterparty. The news agency adds that SBF’s prior attempts to influence Chinese government officials to unfreeze the accounts were unsuccessful.
Judge Kaplan Approves Changes to SBF’s Bail Restrictions
Judge Kaplan on Tuesday also approved amendments to SBF’s bail restrictions. CoinDesk reports the former CEO is no longer allowed to communicate with former FTX or Alameda Research employees except when counsel is present. Bankman-Fried is also no longer allowed to use any “encrypted or ephemeral call or messaging application, including but not limited to Signal.”
SBF’s electronic use is limited to a new laptop computer or phone that only provides him access to 40 pre-approved websites necessary for his defence or personal use “and do not pose a risk of danger to the community.” He has been ordered to hand over his old laptop and smartphone to his legal counsel, who will remove them from his premises.
Any visitor meetings must also be pre-arranged with Bankman-Fried’s defence attorneys, who must ensure security personnel are present to screen for unauthorized devices.
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